The costs of starting and operating a small independent company can be daunting. You have to have a place to work, tools to work with, and people to perform the work. Each of which require a continued investment (rent, maintenance, salary). But there are a lot of great solutions out there that don’t cost you a penny, many of which also come with the support and service of a paid product.
Here at CATS we have found several open source, or just free, software applications that help us manage our processes without increasing our overhead.
Whenever you email our technical support team here at CATS (firstname.lastname@example.org), you are entering into our opensource support ticketing system. osTicket is a widely-used open source support ticket system. It seamlessly integrates inquiries created via email, phone and web-based forms into a simple, easy-to-use multi-user web interface and allows us to manage, organize and archive all your support requests and responses in one place.
We use PHP List to send out mass emails when we need to announce a system change, webinar or special offer; anytime we need to reach all of our customers in one shot. You can choose from an open source downloadable version or a paid hosted version. Either option is packed full of features and can be tailored and customized to carry your message in an efficient and attractive format.
We have mentioned Skype in a couple of our other blogs and that is because we just can’t get enough of it! From inner-office chat to international video calls, Skype keeps our lines of communication wide open without making a mark on our monthly expenses. As our global presence continues to grow, the benefits of Skype continue to increase. If I need to get a hold of a customer in the U.K., Germany or anywhere else for that matter, I know they’ll have a Skype number that I can call for free. And in the rare case that they don’t, it only takes a minute to get signed up. You can even use Skype on your mobile devices! One of our sales reps recently made a video call on his iPod, which pretty much makes it an iPhone now (if only everyone would get on Skype then he could ditch his Blackberry)!
Live chat software is the cost effective tool that helps us give superior customer support service. With just the click of the mouse, our web site visitors can contact our support or sales team for live assistance through Provide Support’s live chat system. The convenience and ease of use this application provides gives our users and potential users another venue to get their questions answered without having to stop whatever else they are working on. You can go to our website, click the button and have two conversations at once. Whether you are in the middle of a phone call or sending an email, updating your expense report or finishing your lunch, Provide Support provides an easy and anonymous (if you choose) way to connect.
There are so many great software applications out there that you can implement immediately at no cost! Most of these programs also have a community of users that are always working to make the applications better, keep them free and are always available to answer questions.
What are your favorite open source or free software applications? Ubuntu? OpenOffice? GIMP?